You may wish to include this project as part of your curricular studies or as an extra-curricular activity. In order to help introduce the project and make it relevant, we have included some starting points below to lead into the monitoring work. You can adopt these to make them as long or as short as required.
What lives on the tree?
Students can investigate what species may be living on or near the tree. This could include surveys of the number of nests in the tree or if there are burrows in the roots of the tree. You can also examine the insects on the tree by using pooters, by shaking branches and seeing what lands on a sheet underneath or by taking some sweep nets. This can be then linked to the importance of why we need native trees to house all of these organisms and why trees and woodlands are one of the most diverse ecosystems in Europe. You could also apply this data to food chains, food webs and food pyramids (see Tree as a Living Island).
Tree scavenger hunt
Give the students a set time to look for different things a tree may produce. This can be on the ground or on the tree. You could give a list which would include different seeds, leaves, twigs, animals, other plants living on the tree, colours or sounds (birds, wind, etc). Students can then bring their collections in to the classroom and make some identification keys, for example with leaf shapes. The findings can also be used to examine the differences in how trees disperse their seeds or the differences between conifers and broad-leaved trees.
Trees and climate change
In the contexts of climate change, trees are sometimes being seen as a possible solution. Students can use news articles and information online to see how different organisations are using trees to combat climate change and make themselves ‘carbon neutral’. You could also have a class discussion to decide whether these are good or bad solutions!
What can trees be used for?
Students can bring in things from home which has originally come from trees. You can also go for a walk around the school grounds and identify anything inside or outside that has originated from trees. Once you have looked at everything, students can split these into different categories such as recreation, furniture, building, stationary, clothing, etc. Students can then design posters or web pages on all the uses of trees and their importance.
Some websites which may help you with these activities or ideas that you may have are listed here:
The Field Studies Council
The Forestry Commission